Hello boys and girls and welcome to yet another edition of Fan Service, where the best of fandom gets its props and the worst of fandom gets their knocks. In today’s installment, we will be focusing on one of the big hot button issues of all fandom in general– attitudes towards the newbie fans and why I believe that sometimes the bad attitudes are unjustified. So make sure you have that bottle of chill pills on hand because what I’m about to say is probably going to cause some ruckus in these parts.
I actually don’t hate newbie fans.
A lot of people seem to have a lot of disdain for fans who just joined in fandom by whatever avenue they may happen to. It doesn’t matter how, it always seems to be the same old attitude towards them. People tend to act condescending to them because they didn’t live through the dark ages like everybody else does or if they’re just going with it because it’s the cool thing to do. While these attitudes are somewhat understandable, it doesn’t mean that you are completely justified in trying to tear them down and look down on them just because they don’t know a lot or were the Johnny-Come-Lately.
Before I go full blast into this, let’s take a look at reasons why these attitudes may exist and why they are understandable. Well, for one thing, imagine that you are a big time fan of, let’s say, the Mother series. Earthbound was a game that nobody really seemed to care about for the longest time, mostly due to the terrible ad campaign in the US and the lack of exports for the other two in the series. Suddenly, Super Smash Brothers renewed an interest in the series for those who haven’t even heard of it beforehand and that’s where we get this newfound fandom. Now imagine you were one of the original fans and suddenly other fans were talking about it and yet didn’t even know of it and probably never even played it. That has got to be pretty annoying. And the ignorance of these fans can really cause a lot of headaches for the diehards. This is justifiable and there’s at least some rhyme to the reason.
Unwittingly igniting fan wars the world over.
This also exists because, well, let’s take a look at the whole recent popularization of gaming as an example. This was once a small and concentrated group of people who had their own games and their own way of life. This was theirs and theirs alone. People as a society like to be a part of something but also like to be different at the same time. It’s a constant complexity that tends to run rampant in humanity. This was THEIR thing and suddenly there’s this influx of people who are getting into gaming and didn’t go through what they had to go through. I’d explain more but I believe that this VG Cats comic strip explains it far better and more efficiently (and humorously) than I ever could put into words.
Now that we’ve got some kind of understanding, let me talk about why I actually don’t mind most newbie fans and why I believe that the sour attitude towards them is kind of unfair.
As I’ve noticed a lot in different fandoms, usually people who become fans of the games/team/show in general is because they discovered it through someone else. Just because it took them a while to get into something doesn’t mean that they should be branded as any less of a fan. I didn’t get into Metroid until a lot later in life mostly due to my own stubbornness towards most sci-fi related games (I know, I know) but I played it in high school and fell in love with it immediately afterwards. I was kicking myself in the head for waiting so long to discover it, but I’m glad I did. Usually, it can take a while. Hell, one could argue that the reason that the Mother series became popular was through discovering it a lot later on than most.
And for another thing, most of the times the newer fans just want to learn more about it and they want to be able to hold their own in a conversation and discuss it. There are those that are ignorant and try to act like they know everything and blast any of the older stuff, but those are a lot fewer than we all think. Newbie fans usually want to be taught and want to learn about whatever it is they are currently getting into. Don’t shut out those who are thirsty for knowledge, regardless of how annoying it may seem. After all, deep down, we all want to share the things that we are into so why not embrace that and teach them a few things and give them some kind of lessons on the game. I know I wouldn’t have been able to get into Pokemon if it wasn’t for my friend teaching me about the game strategies a couple months before I bought it. He was patient with me and didn’t act like a jerk.
Don’t be “that guy”…
Probably the biggest reason why I think the treatment for newbies is pretty unfair is because of the sheer hypocrisy of it. We were all that newbie fan once. If it wasn’t for one thing, it was at least for another. We all found ourselves jumping into a new fandom not knowing really much other than what we looked up on Wikipedia or read on forums. When I first started to get into The Legend of Zelda (I wasn’t necessarily late to the party, but I wasn’t as well-versed), I did my research and I did look things up. But I still was intimidated by the older fans, but that didn’t really stop me. Actually, most of the fans were very helpful and not jerks at all. So if I was to be a jerk to someone who only heard of Skyward Sword or only started off with that game or Twilight Princess, that would be very hypocritical of me. I know that 13-year-old me would be ashamed of how I was acting towards the newbie fan who didn’t know much. In any fandom, this is what bothers me the most. How could you be a jerk to someone who was late to the party? Sure, they may not be punctual, but at least they showed up, doesn’t that count for something?
Now this doesn’t excuse newbie fans completely. In fact, there are some things I think newbie fans should do as they’re getting into a fandom. For one thing, read up on it, whether it be through forums or by Googling. Many video games have Wikia pages. Those are a good start. For another, don’t act like a jerk about it and don’t act like you know everything. After all, older fans and diehards will see right through you and they do not like that kind of attitude. If you find yourself ogling one of the chicks or dudes in the series more than usual, try to keep it to a bare minimum. You want to be taken seriously as a fan, not as another stupid fanboy/fangirl. And remember to not take fandom so seriously in general. Some of the diehards sometimes forget about this memo, but don’t let their attitudes shape yours. Just enjoy it for what it is and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
This has been yet another edition of Fan Service. Until next time, happy fandoming!